OSHA began an inspection of the worksite on April 8 after being notified of unsafe conditions. Investigators observed employees exposed to cave-in hazards at two excavated sites.
The agency issued two alleged willful citations, with proposed penalties of $98,000, for failing to provide workers with proper cave-in protection, such as a trench box or proper shoring and sloping; and for placing excavated material too near to the edge of the excavations, exposing workers to being engulfed by falling soil.
The company was also cited for allegedly failing to provide proper protective equipment, such as rubber gloves and boots, to employees working in an excavation where raw sewage and rainwater had accumulated. Employees were also allegedly exposed to "struck-by" hazards from soil-filled buckets being lifted over their heads and from excavating machinery operating too close to the edge of the excavation. The agency has proposed penalties totaling $11,000 for these violations.
A willful citation is issued when a company has shown an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. Several company employees at this site had taken OSHA-approved trench safety courses, were designated as competent persons, and were aware that workers were exposed to serious safety hazards.
The Gainesville-based company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.